MASS--Faulty Trolleys Leave Riders in the Lurch : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread


Faulty trolleys leave disabled riders in the lurch

Roads Scholar/by Robin Washington Saturday, March 18, 2000

A year ago, T officials invited luminaries to catch the first ride of the new low-floor, handicapped accessible Green Line cars on the D Branch.

This year, those cars have fallen from D to F, and the only place they're traveling is back and forth on the Riverside testing track.

``They made a big deal when they got them, saying, `Look, look what we're doing!' Well, now look at them,'' said Christine Griffin, executive director of the Disability Law Center, of the cars pulled from service last October with braking problems.

Back then, the T suspended payments on its $215 million contract with Italian carmaker Breda Costruzioni Ferroviarie, which was already behind schedule with the trolleys. With only 13 out of 100 cars received in the order that was supposed to have been filled by next year, the company is spending most of its time trying to re-tool them at the Riverside yard and its Littleton assembly plant.

``Breda has been doing some intricate work on the on-board computers with the hardware and the software in order to resolve the problem,'' said T spokesman Joe Pesaturo. ``If all goes well, we will be adding them into revenue service again in April with the revamped software,'' he said, adding that the T will resume payments and begin accepting the cars again if they work.

Angelo Aprile of Breda's local operation said he's confident that they will and hopes his company can start billing again.

But disabled activists called the snafu the latest in a series of excuses the T has made for failing to meet deadlines of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

``The federal regulations said that at least one car per train had to be accessible to individuals with disabilities by July 26, 1995,'' Griffin said.

Pesaturo countered that, however.

``We have not missed any ADA deadlines. We're on schedule with our key station plan regarding specific stations along the Green Line. This delay is not affecting that,'' he said.

``Oh, please,'' responded Griffin. ``If you look back when they ordered these things in '94, they knew they wouldn't be in until '99. Here we are. It's now 2000 and they don't work and they're five years late with the compliance.''

Back home in Italy, Aprile said, Breda has manufactured the shells of 20 cars waiting for the contract to be renewed so they can be shipped to Littleton to get their guts installed.

It might happen. But if it doesn't, they could leave them as they are and sell them as diners.

After all, restaurants have to comply with the Disabilities Act, too.

-- (, March 18, 2000

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